Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The signs of good mental health.

  The degree to which you have an inner sense of comfort in as many situations as possible, is the measure of your mental health.

  The faces of your intimate associates are an index of your level of mental health.  The more unhappy and tense they look, or the more happy and relaxed they look in your presence is the minus and plus of your store of mental health.

3. Your account may be very poor in the above two but the degree and duration of your aspiration and effort to change for the better is the most positive index of the state of your mental health.”

It is sad that Surya's views on mental health have not received the attention they deserve.  Once again he was ahead of his times.  At the time when he expounded his views in 1960s, the limited number of Indian psychiatrists was preoccupied with clinical and hospital work.  Thirty years later when we are reaching out to the community and talking repeatedly about promotion of mental health, we have to first tell our people what we mean by mental health.  It is here that Surya's views become very important.  Statistical norms may serve us when we are dealing with illness, but concept of health is based not only on the current scientific knowledge but also on the inherent value system of a culture.  Science alone cannot set the rules for human behaviour. Dr Surya has been a true pioneer, who has left an indelible mark on Indian psychiatry.  He taught us how Western science and medicine is to be understood and applied in the context of our own cultural heritage.  Dr Surya continues to lead an active life in Pondicherry reading, writing and providing services at a clinic.  Some of his students are continuing his style of psychotherapy at Sri Aurobindo Ashram under his guidance.  Time has not changed him much.  It is a pleasure to be in his company.  He continues to be sharp, provocative and delightful in his wit and humour.  I close this paper with his invocation in the beginning of his book AHAM:

“Lead Us
From Light
To Delight"

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